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Project Mthombo The $10-billion Gorilla in the Bay - published 2 Oct 2012

Petro SA Group CEO Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo said that the Project Mthombo has become the $10-billion Gorilla in the Bay, but asked for patience as the project needs to be planned and implemented in phases. PetroSA envisages the refinery to start in 2019. "Project Mthombo is an important project not only to us at PetroSA, but also to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, the Eastern Cape, the country as a whole and, indeed, the Sub-Saharan African region," Nokwe-Macamo said. This project, located in the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape, is at the heart of trade flows and a growing economy where the demand for petroleum products is rising steadily.

Coega has potential to integrate fragmented but growing markets. It can drive intra-regional crude and product trade and is an enabler for distributing clean fuels into subSahara Africa. "It stands to reason, therefore, that Project Mthombo, which will contribute to security of liquid fuels supply in the SADC region, is indubitably a critical infrastructure project for the development and economic growth of this country and the SADC region," NokweMacamo said. Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Mcebisi Jonas said that Mthombo will generate 360 000 barrels of refined oil a day.

On completion Project Mthombo will be the biggest crude oil refinery in Africa and will secure the country’s future fuel requirements. It is estimated that 27 500 direct and indirect jobs will be created at the height of the construction phase and 18 000 direct and indirect jobs through its operation. Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega Development Corporation (CDC) head of marketing and communications said it will likely generate 5.5% economic growth for the province and opens up opportunity for the development of a petro-chemicals cluster. "Such a cluster, and the by-product industries that come with it, will spawn a host of new small and medium industries with jobs, economic growth, export and import replacement opportunities," Vilakazi said.

Kevin Hustler, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive said that there is much to be done to ensure these projects happens. "Coordinated efforts are needed from the city’s business community, local government and the education and training sector to ensure the Bay is ready to host this mega-project," Hustler said.

In the Eastern Cape, and particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay, the project will bring significant benefits in job creation, long-term poverty relief and industrial diversification, through its construction and operation, as well as upstream opportunities in areas such as agro-processing and logistics, and downstream through the development of a petrochemicals industry.

A high-level team, led by Professor Derrick Swartz, Vice-Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, together with representatives from Coega, Nafcoc, the Black Management Forum, Transnet, and the Municipality’s Economic Development Directorate, are engaging various players in the political realm and national government, up to the Deputy President. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, its members and the local business community welcomes Project Mthombo to the Eastern Cape.

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